Search giant Baidu and China Citic Bank plan to establish a direct bank that will likely focus on wealth management products and loans to individuals and small companies, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unnamed source. The partnership would sidestep identity verification issues by allowing users to open accounts through Citic Bank’s physical bank branches, an option unavailable to the online-only banks of Baidu rivals Alibaba and Tencent, which have been hamstrung by regulations that prevent customers from opening bank accounts remotely. For more on online finance, data security and ID verification in China, see CER’s in-depth report.
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